Saturday, December 31, 2011


Freedom of Science
Read on the implications of some recent governmental decision on the freedom of science in Turkey on GIT - North America.

An Intervention letter in support of the autonomy of the Turkish Academy of Sciences
Read the letter of the International Human Rights Network of Academies and Scholarly Societies on GIT-North America.

Bilan of the Year on the Rights of Expression and Association
Read a comprehensive report on the year 2011's third quarter on Bianet, with the following categories: "murdered journalists"; "journalists in prison";"attacks, threats, and obstructions"; "investigations, new/pending trials, decisions";"TCK 285, 288: how many thousand trials?" [on the Turkish penal code on "Violation of confidentiality of an investigation" and on the "attempt to influence a fair trial"] ; "trials concerned with 'insult,' 'personal rights,' and compensation claims"; "the prime-ministerial board for the protection of minors from harmful publications" [e.g., three-year prison threat for the translation of the American author Chuck Palahniuk's novel Snuff]; "Closure and Confiscations"; "regulations, effects, reactions, legal remedies"; "European Court of Human Rights: applications and decisions"; "Radio Television Supreme Council [RTÜK] reprimands."

Seminar in Paris:"Freedom of Research in Turkey"
Read the seminar announcement of GIT-France(and send your ideas even if you cannot attend) on GITinitiative.

Remember the scholars and researchers in Turkish prisons
Read the GIT-France's letter of information, including theaddresses of some of the Turkish scholars, journalists, and researchers inTurkish prisons on GITinitiative(consider writing to them). We just got confirmation from GITInitiative that Deniz Zarakolu is no longer in Edirne, but joined his father Ragıp Zarakolu in Kocaeli; they now share their cell.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Freedom of science

On May 3, 2011, the Turkish Parliament with the AKP absolute majority, gave the Cabinet the right to issue decree law for six months. Accordingly, the Prime Minister and his Cabinet didn't have to pass any law from the Parliament, and were equipped with the power to pass decrees on their own. On 27 August, the government issued a decree law, announcing the change of the structure of Turkish Science Academy [TÜBA] and ending its autonomy; rather than merit-based appointed members, the appointments would be done by the government. Because the Science Academy is publicly funded, it was hard for the Academy to reject these changes. Consequently, after a few months of struggle, about seventy academics member of the Academy resigned and formed an association of their own.

While the government did not offer any explanation for these changes, the former President of the Academy Yücel Kanpolat and others believe this change was done with more utilitarian purposes. In Science Insider, Kanpolat states that the government is on a campaign 'to penetrate into the independence of institutions. … TÜBA has been one of the last of those institutions.' (The independence of Turkey's Scientific and Technological Research Council had already been 'gutted,' says Taner Edis, a Turkish physicist at Truman State University in Kirksville, Missouri.)"

Also in Science Insider, "Ayse Erzan, a physicist at Istanbul Technical University and a TÜBA member, agrees. 'I don't think this has anything to do with science versus religion,' she says. Erzan believes it may be a 'naïve' attempt to make Turkish science more 'utilitarian.' The decree stipulates that TÜBA can start and run new research institutes, and Erzan suspects the government wants the academy to get more involved in applied research leading to technological innovation."

Considering how Prime Minister Erdoğan has recently addressed the Higher Council for Science and Technology and laid out a historiographical project, one that supports the "Turkish case" in the international discussions on the Armenian Genocide--as recently addressed on GIT-North America, it may not be wrong indeed to believe that an extreme centralization of power and governmental control over these institutions are geared towards putting the production of knowledge and science at the service of governmental needs.

Independent from any operations or previous works that the Science Academy might have had, when primary allegiance is not to research and the production of knowledge itself, and governments start meddling with such institutions by turning them into government agencies, the reliability of any research or reputation of any scientific decision-making process is damaged. Many nation-states did this, which is why social scientists and humanities scholars, for example, are still writing volumes about silences in history, collective memory, and offer analyses of manipulated production of knowledge.

Ironically, the recently-arrested academic Büşra Ersanlı, whose case got plenty of coverage here on GIT-North America, is one of those scholars. She wrote about Mustafa Kemal Atatürk's "historians with mission"--whose primary allegiance were to the nation and who thus sought to iron the creases in Turkish history and built the Turkish History Thesis in the 1930s. In that respect, whether the Prime Minister Erdoğan's and AKP's latest move on the Turkish Science Academy are also in part to manipulate environmental policy making as some speculate or not, the result is the same: the primary mission will be to the state and--under the current circumstances, duly to the government.

In fact, those who worry about the environmental policy-making might not be completely unfounded, as another decree law on 17 August, only ten days before the Science Academy decree, had annulled commissions to protect national environmental sites and appointed the Ministry of Environment and Urban Development [Çevre ve Şehircilik Bakanlığı] to decide whether or not nature sites need to be protected or can indeed be open to construction instead. Also recently, Professor Onur Hamzaoğlu, Chair of Public Health at Kocaeli University School of Medicine, "who was investigating heavy metals from mining found in the breast milk and feces of infants," in other words, health impacts of industrial pollution, "was sued by local mayors and faces a two- to four-year jail term for ‘threatening to incite fear and panic among the population'," as the New York Times recently reported. It is also reported that upon the request of AKP's Ministry of Health, the government-appointed Council of Higher Education [YÖK]--a legacy institution of the military coup times--urged the Rectorate of Kocaeli University to take "necessary action" on Hamzaoğlu, and a disciplinary proceeding was launched by the University.

In all cases, one thing is certain: the government keeps moving fast and strong in absorbing autonomous institutions and increasing control over institutional practices, one of the latest examples of which were the stock market (also decided with a decree law hidden in another decree on the Ministry of Family and Social Affairs). The issues of scientific and academic autonomy and freedom are therefore only telling examples of a bigger picture.

An Intervention Letter in Support of the Turkish Academy of Sciences


September 6, 2011

His Excellency Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Prime Minister
Office of the Prime Minister
06573 Ankara
Republic of Turkey


Our Network is composed of national academies and scholarly societies around
the world, many of which have worked with the Turkish Academy of Sciences
(TÜBA) and its respected members over the years. We have seen how TÜBA,
acting with financial and administrative autonomy, responsibly has promoted
scientific activities in Turkey, determined scientificpriorities, and proposed
science policies and constructivechanges in science legislation to the Turkish
government in a sincere effort to elevate Turkey to the level of a true "scientific

Because one of the charges of our Network is to support sister academies whose
independence is threatened, we write, with all due respect, to tell you we are
deeply distressed to learnof the recent government decree that appearsto
restructure TÜBA and effectivelyremove its independence. (Because we are
certain that other science organizations will share our qualms, we are posting this
letter on our website.) In writing, it is our sincere hope that you will understand
our concern and use your.goodoffices to quickly reverse this legislation and
support andstrengthen TÜBA. A healthy and independent science academy can
do much to help Turkey produce good science and profit from its benefits.
As international scientists and scholars, we can assure you that autonomy-within
legal, ethical, and scientific norms-is essential to the practice and culture of
science (within academiesas well as universities), to the public welfare, and to social stability. Any legitimate, respected national academy is self governing. It elects its own members based on their scientific achievement andderives its prestige from their renown; it allocates its financial resources according to need; it provides objective, unbiased scientificopinions; and it remains independent of religious and political belief and influence.

We strongly believe that Turkey needs and deserves the respect and recognition of the international scientific community that an independent TÜBA would continue to attract.

Sincerely yours,

Arjuna Aluwihare, Sri Lanka
Dorairajan Balasubramanian, India
Claude Cohen-Tannoudji, France
Abdallah S. Daar, Oman/Canada
Felton Earls, United States of America
François Jacob,France
Belita Koiller, Brazil
Pedro León Azofeifa, Costa Rica
Ida Nicolaisen, Denmark
John Polanyi, Canada
Alenka Selih, Slovenia

cc: Dr. Yücel Kanpolat, President, Turkish Academy of Sciences
Dr. Howard Alper, Co-Chair, Executive Committee, The Global Networkof Science Academies
Dr. Mohamed H.A. Hassan, Co-Chair, Executive Committee, TheGlobal Network of Science Academies (IAP)
Ms. Irina Bokova, Director-General, UNESCO
Dr. Catherine Bréchignac, President, International Council for Science (ICSU)
Dr. Yuan T. Lee, President-Elect, International Council for Science (ICSU)

This letter and numerous others can be reached at:


A history book on 1915, please – but put no genocide in it!

Read about the historiographical project of the Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan on GIT - North America.

GIT Initiative Denounces the Declarations of Turkish Minister of Internal Affairs

Read the statement of the GIT initiative on the declarations of Mr. İdris Naim Şahin on GIT - North America. To read the declarations of Minister Şahin, see the translation in English on GIT - North America.

AKP's passion for the Kurds: Either you belong to me or to the court

Read Selin Pelek and Foti Benlisoy's analysis of the uses of anti-terrorism law against freedom of speech, especially on the Kurdish issue on GIT - North America.

Rights violations surging

Human rights workers, lawyers and politicians say Turkey has been taking backwards steps on human rights issues since 2005. Read more on Hürriyet Daily News.

The Epidemic of Terrorism under Turkey's Mubarak 

Eren Buğlalılar writes about the statistics of detainees, arrests, under the claims of terrorism, and refers to a report prepared by the Progressive Lawyers Association [Çağdaş Hukukçular Derneği] whereby hundreds of students are arrested. We also learn from Buğlalılar that this Association too was raided by the police and 33 lawyers member of this association were arrested. If you missed it earlier, read it on GIT - North America.

A history book on 1915, please – but put no genocide in it!

In his address to the Higher Council of Science and Technology on Tuesday, December 27, the Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan laid down a historiographical project. Following on the footsteps of Mustafa Kemal, who had once said that “writing history is as important as making it,” Mr. Erdoğan asked the Turkish “scientific community, researchers, and universities” to focus on recent history. “We will pay attention to libraries, archives, and scientific studies –not to parliamentary votes– and thus share our counter theses with the world public opinion on firm foundations,” said Mr. Erdoğan. Mr. Erdoğan clearly wishes to read historical research that would support the “Turkish case” in the international discussions on the Armenian Genocide. His wishes may well be taken as orders by the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK), the administration of which was very recently reorganized with a view to increase governmental control over it. The pressing question is how one will reconcile the archival evidence, which includes clear references to the secret orders of the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP) that unleashed the CUP gangs against Ottoman Armenians (see, for instance, Oral Çalışlar’s piece on Radikal) with Mr. Erdoğan’s wishes. Of course, the greatest irony is Mr. Erdoğan’s defense of the CUP, the ideological legacy of which is passionately attacked by him and his party in most other issues.

GIT Initiative Denounces the Declarations of Turkish Minister of Internal Affairs

The statements of the Turkish Minister of Internal Affairs, Idris Naim Sahin, diffused in the press on December 26, 2011, illustrates that the Turkish government considers activities that fall under freedom of research and expression as “indirect activities of terrorism that take place in the backyard – and this backyard is Istanbul, Izmir, Bursa, Vienna, Germany, London, wherever [they may be], [at] a university chair, an association, a non-governmental organization.”

In this context, the definition of terror promoted by the government currently includes a number of people who have no connection with armed or violent resistance. It threatens the freedom of expression by inventing new classifications of terror such as "scientific terror” or “artistic terror." Scientists, artists, journalists, students, and gradually the whole of civil society, run the risk of falling victim to this “classification” by the government itself.

The International Work Group (GIT): "Academic Liberty and Freedom of Research in Turkey" denounces these statements that aim at the suppression of freedom of expression in Turkey. We find that the Turkish Minister of Internal Affairs, has obviously lost the sense of impartiality necessary for the proper functioning of this governmental position. We demand the end of repression in Turkey regarding researchers, teachers, translators, publishers, students, artists, journalists and also those of various ethnic and sexual identities. We demand the immediate release of our colleagues unjustly accused of "terrorism."*

*GIT Initiative wishes to thank Zeynep Oguz and Ferhat Taylan for translations of the Minister’s declaration on GIT-North America (in English) and (in French).

Thursday, December 29, 2011

AKP's Passion for the Kurds: Either You Belong to Me or to the Court


4 November 2011

Selin Pelek and Foti Benlisoy write about the uses of anti-terrorism law which they define as beyond McCarthyism, with a focus on the Kurdish issue. Translated by Adnan Tonguç and Amy Spangler.


It appears that the arrests of Professor Büşra Ersanlı and the publisher Ragıp Zarakolu (two recent arrests within the wide-ranging “KCK operations” carried out in Turkey by the government of Erdogan) will create a stir marked by considerable anger and energy within the intellectual community, which has long been targeted by a campaign of intimidation. It is not just that “the skullcap has fallen” (as the Turkish saying goes), but rather, it is completely gone, revealing the baldness for all to see.

What is clear is that the AKP, which has long been strutting on the political scene as both victim and “revolutionary,” has adopted with voracious appetite and great enthusiasm the ideals of the Turkish state. As if imitating the former governor of Ankara, Nevzat Tandoğan, who famously said, “If communism is to come, it is us who will bring it,” the AKP says, “If the Kurdish problem is to be solved, it is us who will solve it,” refusing to recognise any interlocutor except itself. Prisons are overflowing with those refusing to become the Kurds of the AKP. There is not even the slightest indication of any connection whatsoever between “terrorism” and those taken in as part of the KCK operations, which have been initiated under the pretext of wiping out the PKK’s urban branch.
The asymmetrical war being waged against civilians by the government has stamped all advocates of peace as “the enemy.” Especially since the electoral success of the Block Candidates supported by the BDP [Peace and Democracy Party, which has been struggling for the rights of Kurdish citizens in Turkey], the AKP, using “terrorism” as an excuse, has been intensifying day by day its repression of all non-governmental structures that draw their strength from the autonomous power of the Kurds. The latest arrests are a sign that the well-worn cliché, “Let them lay down their weapons, come down from the mountains, and do their politics on the plains,” often repeated by the so-called moderate wing of statesmen, has completely rotted away. [...]

The point at which our democracy [in Turkey] finds itself as of 2011 can be summarized as follows. Offering courses at a legal party’s academy of politics—a party which has taken part in elections, and what is more, is represented in the parliament—can render you the target of a “struggle against terrorism, being waged with utmost determination.” Your legal party might continue to exist, but engaging in politics through this party is not legitimate. This is so because on the basis of an indictment whose conceptualization of “crime” may encompass your musical tastes or your private conversations, you might be declared a terrorist and arrested on the basis of evidence that even your lawyer cannot access. Finally, you might be put in prison on the grounds that if you are not imprisoned, you could potentially tamper with the top-secret evidence of your crimes. The aim of this embargo placed in front of our eyes on a political movement is not just to make the Kurds—who comprise the best organized oppositional force in Turkey—bow to AKP authoritarianism, but also to target by means of such black propaganda everyone who strives for a dignified peace."

To read the entire article, please visit:

The Epidemic of Terrorism under Turkey's Mubarak

MrZine Monthly Review:

Eren Buğlalılar writes about the statistics of detainees, arrests, under the claims of terrorism, and refers to a report prepared by the Progressive Lawyers Association [Çağdaş Hukukçular Derneği] whereby hundreds of students are arrested. We also learn from Buğlalılar that this Association too was raided by the police and 33 lawyers member of this association were arrested.

"A new epidemic has broken out in Turkey. It's called "terrorism." This ideologically transmitted disease (ITD) appears to be extremely infectious. Otherwise how can we explain the large and growing number of terrorists in the country?

The Associated Press carried out a survey on terrorism convictions in the world. The figures are worrying. According to the findings of the survey, [...] Turkey alone accounted for one third of the world total. A rough estimate shows the size of the epidemic of terrorism in Turkey: of every 5,500 Turkish citizens, one is a terrorist.

Thanks to the efforts of the government, Turkey managed to break another record in prison population statistics. The total number of convicts and pre-trial detainees in Turkey reached 121,000 in 2010, an all-time high. Just nine years ago, when the Justice and Development Party first came into power, that number was 60,000. Did you notice something strange about the political party held up as the "model" of democracy for the "Arab Spring"?

There is another interesting point. Terrorism, oddly, is very widespread among intellectuals in Turkey. According to a report prepared by the Progressive Lawyers' Association of Turkey, there are around 500 university students who are currently under arrest and charged with terrorism. Evidence? Public prosecutors' indictments are full of symptoms of terrorism: participating in May Day celebrations, protesting the government on various occasions, and, worst of all, keeping the books of Lenin, Stalin, and Che Guevara at home. . . As if that is not enough, even a professor of law, Büşra Ersanlı, and a publisher, Ragıp Zarakolu, were recently discovered to be infected with terrorism. Alas!

By the way, the Progressive Lawyers' Association might not be the best institution from which to learn facts about terrorism. Because last month police forces raided the houses of more than 40 members of this association and the court said it suspected that 33 of its lawyers might be infected with terrorism. They were arrested. The International Association of Democratic Lawyers and the European Association of Lawyers for Democracy and World Human Rights condemned their arrests. It was the biggest wave of arrests of lawyers in the history of the Republic of Turkey. Even in the years of military coups, in 1971 and 1980, we didn't face anything comparable."

To read the rest of the article, please visit:

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


New Definitions of Terrorism from the Turkish Minister of Internal Affairs
Read how articles written by a university chair holder might well be considered a terrorist activity on GIT-North America.

The trial of journalists continues

The trial of award winning journalist Nedim Şener and Ahmet Şık continues (see Hürriyet Daily News). You can read selections from Ahmet Şık’s book which led to his arrest on Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (the book has since been published in Turkish under the title of OOO Kitap).

Translator, researcher, and global peace and justice activist Ayşe Berktay's Letter from Prison

"Earlier in October 2011, Ayşe Berktay (Hacimirzaoglu)—a renowned translator, researcher, and global peace and justice activist—was taken by the police from her home in Istanbul at five o’clock in the morning and subsequently arrested. She still remains imprisoned for the foreseeable future. Below is a letter and statement by Ayşe Berktay, addressed to Lieven De Cauter—a philosopher and founding member of the Brussels Tribunal—who has been organizing an international campaign to release Ayşe Berktay from prison. Click here to sign a petition to stop arbitrary detentions in Turkey.]"
To read an excerpt from this letter and statement visit our "From Prison" section or to access the whole text visit Jadaliyya.

Two Students Under Custody Since 2009
Read about Baran Nayır and Ali Deniz Kılıç, two students who had participated in a demonstration more than two years ago and have been held in custody since then on Bianet.

And read much more by visiting our Links and other sections.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011


Freedom of Thought and Speech in Turkey. Right Now

Follow "Freedom of Thought and Speech in Turkey. Right Now" on Facebook.

A college student in jail for an internship inquiry

Read about Şeyma Özcan, a second year Boğaziçi University student majoring in History, who is in jail because of a phone call she made to inquire about an internship at a newspaper on Hürriyet Daily News.

"Turkey takes Lead in Violations of Freedom of Expression"

According to the European Court of Human Rights [ECHR] Judge Işıl Karakaş, arrests in Turkey are the basis and release the exception, and Turkey is "the country in the worst situation considering press freedom and freedom of expression" and also "the country with the most convictions ruled by the ECHR in this area." According to this, "the number of applications filed to the ECHR from Turkey in 2011 has increased incredibly. This year, about 9,000 applications were made compared with less than 6,500 last year. This shows that some things are not going right in Turkey despite a set of regulations, reforms or developments expected for the judiciary."

Read more about Işıl Karakaş, judge at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) visit Bianet.

Anti-Terrorism Law Obstructs Freedom of Expression

The opening session of the "Freedom Express - Özgürlük Ekspresi," was held on November 16th in Istanbul; this initiative aims at creating a forum of free thought for the discussion of different ideas without polarization. The first guests of this event hosted by journalist Banu Güven were Nadire Mater, journalist and photographer Wilco van Herpen and journalist Faruk Mercan. Güven emphasized that "[p]ress Freedom occupies a large part within freedom of expression" and "claimed that this situation had an impact on the journalists' freedom to make news as well as on the readers' freedom to information."The discussants agreed that what obstructed the freedom of expression used to be Article 301, denigrating Turkishness, and that now, it the Anti-Terrorism Law has replaced Article 301 in obstructing free expression.

To read these comments by three journalists working in Turkey, visit Bianet.

And read much more by visiting our Links and other sections.

Monday, December 26, 2011

New Definitions of Terrorism from the Minister of Internal Affairs [Turkey]

Taken from the Turkish daily Radikal, 26/12/2011 15:24 online version, accessed 22:00 Central Turkish time. Translated by Zeynep Oğuz.

Minister [of Internal Affairs, İdris Naim] Şahin claimed that those who work to exculpate PKK are brushing aside the reality of terrorism and instead fighting the ones that fight against it. He stated that there are two structures at work: one to fight against terrorism, and another to fight against those who fight against the fight. Expressing the urgency to identify the weeds in the backyard that feed terrorism, he continued his remarks as follows:
“There is an alternative system against these [terrorists]. Our system. They have no rules. A legal system has law, order, rights, the separation of good and evil and that of the guilty and the innocent. It even argues for a humanistic struggle when it comes to fighting those that are deceived, dismayed, kidnapped, and put into terrorist organizations. So, on the one hand there is lawlessness, and on the other is a struggle carried outwithin a legal framework. However the activities of the terrorist organization[s] are not limited to armed attacks; they do not only take place up on mountains, and slopes, nor only in cities and on the streets, and on the back streets at nights by laying insidious ambushes. [Terrorism is not only armed terrorism.] There is another leg of this [operation]. There is psychological terrorism, there is scientific terrorism. There is the backyard that fosters terrorism. In other words, there is propaganda, terrorism propaganda.”
Şahin claimed that some people support terrorism by twisting it, by making up justifications for it, and by rendering it reasonable. He added:
“And how do they achieve that? Maybe they paint their reflections on a canvas. Or they may write poems, articles,short features, or wherever they write. Unable to slow down, they get carried away and try to demoralize the soldiers or the police, who fight against terrorism, by turning them [fighters] into the subject matter of their works of art. In one way or another, there is some kind of battle with those who fight against terrorism. The[se battles are the]indirect activities of terrorism that take place in the back yard –and this back yard is Istanbul, Izmir, Bursa, Vienna, Germany, London, wherever [they may be], [at] a university chair, an association, a non-governmental organization.
As a matter of this day and age, the more the non-governmental organizations we have the more democratic we are but, from the point of view of terrorism, too, it is a need to infiltrate into these organizations; and they can; it is possible to do so, so they have. It starts out as an innocent association; some are cultural organizations, others educational. Now, the fight against those ones up in the mountain and in the rural areas is relatively easy, but when it comes to [dealing with] the backyard, the weeds get mixed up with garden cress. They all appear green. They all get mixed up; some are poisonous, some are beneficial.One understands which is which only when one eats them.”
“We are aware of the psychological warfare”
Emphasizing the difficulty of combat in the backyard of the terrorist organization, Şahin explained that they needed to distinguish them by means of a surgeon’s sensitivity. Minister Şahin stated that they are not against art and continued:
“First of all we have problems demarcating that back yard. And exploiting our trouble in distinguishing, they claim, ‘I am a beneficial herb, too, I am parsley. I am only stating my cause,I happen to be in this back yard.’ That is to say, by making the most use of democracy, terrorism has spread all over like rhizomes. And on the one hand is the structure of terrorism, with its illegal, unlawful framework. On the other is you fighting against it within a legal framework –and which, by the way is the way it will continue being, it is not that we are complaining. But on yet another side is the unarmed [sub]structure of terrorism. That is, the configuration that provides support for those who bear arms. That is to say the subsidiary powers. Depending on the occasion, it [the configuration] only sings songs, but every three song is an address to the audience, whereby there is a nice little message. Whatever you take from it, however you interpret it. It is art that is performed on stage. What can you do, we are not against art as such, but we do have to pluck these with the sensitivity of a surgeon, we all have a responsibility to be aware of these. There is terror, there is war against terror, and there is also a configuration that fights the war against terror. We are aware of this psychological war.
There is so much grudge against the state that, in the scrap that they call their agreement, they refer to themselves as an organization, and not a state. I mean, they are enemies of the Turkish state, we understand that much, but they are so against the state that they cannot use [the word] state for their own organization. What is it, then, what is a state? What does a state do? State is order, state is law, state is hierarchy, state is property, state is chastity, state is freedom, education, health; state is the very life itself. In that case, an organization that is not a state, is the state of the mightiest at a given moment. Whoever has the strength, whoever is the sovereign, rules. A group of individuals that feed off of each other. Man is a wolf to man. Whoever can get their teeth onto others becomes the state. And the sympathizers who tag along behind them. If only they [?] could live that reality for one day, not even one day, 10 minutes, I know what they would do but there is no way out. It is no joke. Because it [the reality] is exposed by those who did find the way out. I used to say this, but now the confessors are confirming it. It is an environment where all kinds of lewd behavior, moral corruption, every form of inhuman state takes place, from eating pork, to Zoroastrianism, from whatever nation and brotherhoods, to, excuse my language, being gay. There is only way in and no way out. The way in is fear, the way out is death. It is this kind of a configuration.”
“We have to interpret what they say as meaning the opposite”

Declaring that there is a document entitled “the sub [?
]-agreement,”whereby there is a specific enumeration for it [?], Şahin stated:
“Associations are listed as one item, and the political parties as another item as part of this structure. If it is not, then go ahead and say so; explain, first and foremost, to the Grand National Assembly of Turkey [GNAT], and say ‘Somebody has written fallaciously, irrelevantly about us.’ If you are indeed free and courageous then go ahead and tear that document up [as a sign of rejecting its content], and yet you are not free. It is a structure where, in their own minds, they see all of my Kurdish brothers as slaves, seeing them as ‘automatic members,’ and ‘the political faction, including the parliamentary group, as one indivisible whole.’ Thereafter you dare talk about freedom; which freedom, you are not free yourself. If you are free, if you are sincere, then reject [the claims]. The language of peace, peace, brotherhood, freedom, is it? Which freedom? Is there a freer platform than the one at the GNAT for expression of freedom? That is an untouchable podium. And you have it.
There is no further podium for any citizen of this country. There is no further assembly. We are in a structure where this is abided by, this is tolerated, and this is called ‘freedom.’ And, thank God, we are [free] and we represent a model to the world. If you have an opinion, come along and express it. Nobody says anything, they won’t. If the majority of this country follows you when you express your opinion then your rules and policies shall govern. But you keep yelling ‘freedom, peace’ on the one hand, and on the other you have trouble with the lack of your followers. And yet, ‘I am here, I must exist, too,’ you say. You partake in democracy and engage in antidemocratic activity on the side.
We can easily understand the language of their backyard, of the representatives of this political configuration, in fact all of them, if we read it backwards. One has to invert whatever they say. I have found out their motivations, their worlds this way.Whatever they declare as good, is evil; and if they think it is evil, it isgood. If they say ‘peace,’ therein is a sign of war. If they say ‘democracy’ there is atrocity. If they say ‘human’ there lies a trap for humans. If they say ‘love’ that means hatred and grudge. Whatever they say means the opposite.One understands it when one reads backwards.” (AA)

Friday, December 23, 2011

Necati's Letter from Prison

The first letter Necati Henden wrote from Kandıra F-Type prison reached his family on December 19, 2011. The letter, a copy of which is included in the blog his family has set up, includes a sketch of the one-person cell he spent his first three weeks.

As you can see, I live in a small hole like this…Don’t worry about me too much; you won’t be able to see me around for a couple of months until my [first] trial hearing. I went to do research in a [strange] place that has no phones, Internet, technology or humans. When I return I will be more knowledgeable as a result of this research. In this place, communication by sending letters has just been established, and phones have just been invented…. To cut a long story short, I am one of those that “ the state [mercifully] looks after and feeds in jail rather than executes by hanging” [a reference to an infamous quote by the leader of the September 12, 1980 junta].

Translator’s note (M. Pamir): Necati Henden is 19 years old. He is a 2-year student at the Department of Communications Design at Kocaeli University. He is charged with “praising a criminal and a crime,” and “membership in a terrorist organization.” He is in prison since November 22, 2011. His lawyer submits that the reason he is arrested is because he participated in a commemoration of Deniz Gezmis [the revolutionary activist who was tried in Martial Law Court and executed in 1972], he took part in anti-government demonstrations in the town of Hopa, and because he organized a press release against the price hikes in transportation fees. He has a diagnosed liver condition, Gilbert syndrome. His family is concerned that prison conditions will exacerbate his jaundice symptoms. The blog his family has established, from which this letter and information is taken, shares news about his case and the cases of other arrested students. The blog is at:

Foreign Policy:

Turkey's War on Journalists

December 22, 2011

Alia Malek writes about the growing lack of tolerance against dissent and its toll on journalists. In this long article, Malek addresses larger issues with the state of journalists in Turkey as well as locating Turkey in the political framework of the Middle East--the dynamics with Syria, United States, and so on.

"ISTANBUL —When the terrorism trial of jailed Turkish journalists Ahmet Sik and Nedim Sener began in Istanbul on Nov. 22, only a handful of their colleagues -- far fewer than expected -- gathered in protest outside the courthouse that will decide their fate."


"Sik and Sener have been detained since March, on charges that seemed at first too ludicrous to stand. They are accused of being members of Ergenekon, a shadowy, ultranationalist group that allegedly has been trying to foment a coup against the Turkish government - despite the fact that Sik is known in Turkey for having written the definitive exposé on the group.

Sik's supporters believe he ran afoul of the Turkish justice system when he began to investigate the influence of the Fethullah Gulen movement, a powerful Islamist network that is one of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's most important pillars of support. Sener's research into the murder of the Armenian-Turkish journalist Hrant Dink -- which asserted that the police and the state were involved in his killing -- touched on another of Turkey's taboo subjects.

Sik and Sener's detention are hardly an anomaly in today's Turkey. Currently, 76 Turkish journalists are in jail, more than in any other country. In a Dec. 20, roundup, several more journalists were among those newly detained when the Turkish government jailed roughly 40 people, accusing them of links to Kurdish militants.

In addition to journalists, Erdogan's government has jailed lawyers, academics, and students, also ostensibly on terrorism-related charges that critics counter are transparent attempts to stifle freedom of expression and dissent."

To read the rest of this comprehensive article, please see the link below:

Thursday, December 22, 2011


Turkey arrests Journalists in Alleged Terror Plot

According to the Freedom for Journalists Platform, about 38 journalists were taken under custody under the claims of being "members of the 'press and propaganda wing' of a banned Kurdish separatist group" accused of terrorism. The Platform states that Turkey follows China in having the highest number of journalists in prison. Also, according to press freedom index of the Reporters without Borders, Turkey has dropped from 102 to 138 since 2008, following the 2006 changes to the infamous Turkish Anti-Terror law that expanded the definition of terrorism to threaten freedom of expression and association.

December 20, 2011

Istanbul (CNN) -- Turkish police detained dozens of people in a wave of raids targeting suspected members of the "press and propaganda wing" of a banned Kurdish separatist group accused of committing acts of terrorism, the semi-official Anatolian Agency reported Tuesday.

In a move that alarmed human rights organizations, journalists' associations and press freedom activists, police swept up a number of journalists in the raids. "Thirty-eight colleagues have been detained," announced the Freedom for Journalists Platform, an umbrella group that represents dozens of Turkish journalist associations and unions.

"Detentions, arrests and trials of journalists revive crimes of thought in this country. Turkey follows China as the country where the highest number of journalists are in prison," the Platform concluded.


A growing number of writers and academics have been detained in conjunction with several sprawling investigations into alleged coup plots and terrorism plots. Many of these suspects spend months in detention without charge awaiting trial.

Last October, police detained outspoken publisher and freedom of expression activist Ragip Zarakolu as well as Busra Ersanli, a political science professor at Marmara University, as part of an operation against suspects accused of links to Kurdish terrorist groups.

Meanwhile, in November, prominent investigative journalists Nedim Sener and Ahmet Sik appeared in court for the first time some nine months after they were arrested in conjunction with an alleged plot to overthrow the Turkish government. Their trial was adjourned until December 26 after defense attorneys argued the presiding judge, Resul Cakir, could not rule impartially since he was a plaintiff in a separate case against one of the defendants.

Sener is a recipient of the World Press Freedom Hero award from the International Press Institute for his investigative book about the 2007 assassination of Turkish-Armenian newspaper editor Hrant Dink and alleged involvement of state security officials.

Sener predicted he would be targeted as part of a growing government crackdown on voices of dissent in an interview with CNN several months before his arrest.

To read the rest of the article by CNN reporters Ivan Watson and Yeşim Cömert, please see the link below:
Science Magazine

Turkey and Science Academies

Despite the AKP's earlier critique of and declaration to abolish of the Council of Higher Education, the Council along with the Academy is restructuring to assume stronger top-down management of research and teaching. Bruce Alberts, the Editor-in-Chief of Science writes on the Turkish Government's decision to directly or indirectly appoint the members of TUBA-Turkish Academy of Sciences and the effect of new regulations on academic freedom.  

 "Turkey increased its support of R&D sixfold from 1995 to 2007, reaching a current investment rate of about 0.7% of gross domestic product. In order for these resources to be well spent, it is critical that Turkey maintain an environment for science that encourages creativity and rewards excellence. Unfortunately, for the past decade Turkey's scientists have been increasingly subjected to counterproductive top-down management. Teachers are reportedly “facing increasing pressure not to teach modern theories of evolution..."

"TÜBA was established only in 1993, but it has already been an important force for promoting excellence in both science and science education in Turkey. For example, it has empowered young scientists through the development of a Young Academy and has focused on creating high-quality inquiry-based science education for children. Its expert guidance will be essential in the future for improving the effectiveness of the government's increasing support for science and technology, a critical function that depends on TÜBA's ability to tell the truth to government, independent of political considerations. An “academy” whose members are largely appointed by government cannot play this role effectively."

See the link for the full article: